SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Giants wont be the biggest spenderin the NL West for long.
Their archrivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are about to beflush with cash after a group with Magic Johnson as its public face agreed topurchase the club for 2.15 billion on Tuesday night.
Yep, 2.15 billion. All cash, no contingencies. Andstunningly, almost triple the previous record sale price for a major leaguefranchise.
The announcement is being heralded in SoCal as the rebirthof one of baseballs jewel franchises, which had been run into the ground (andbankruptcy court) by conniving East Coast parking lot baron Frank McCourt.
Now McCourt, who bought the team in 2004 in essence with agiant Countrywide home loan, and then borrowed more to fund a wildly lavish, Gatsbyesquelifestyle, will walk away with an estimated 700-800 million in pure profit.And thats after buying out his lovely, equally conniving ex-wife.
What a country.
So how should Giants fans feel about this? How is the Giantsfront office reacting to it?
I called CEO Larry Baer for that reason on Wednesday. And hetermed the sale a good thing for everyone including the Dodgers archrival.
We are going to compete our brains out against L.A. andevery other team, said Baer, who participated in the 30-0 approval vote. Butoff the field, we want the other 29 clubs to do well and be in good, stablehands. We want them to get good TV deals. We want them to sell tickets. We wantthem to excel in every area, except we want to beat them on the field.
The Dodgers new ownership group includes Golden StateWarriors co-owner Peter Guber, is fronted by Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter andwill be run by longtime major league executive Stan Kasten. Magic Johnson addsmagnetism and a heroic local presence. He will have an office at the stadium asthe Dodgers seek to win back legions of disaffected fans.
Baer called the group a committed ownership that seems tobe well financed with local personalities that will put a lot of energy intothe team. I think that will speak well for the Dodger-Giant rivalry.
Were partners off the field. You dont want teams inbankruptcy. You want the industry to be strong from top to bottom and thatincludes all 30 teams.
There is already a current of thought that the Dodgers willlook to make huge splashes in free agency this winter. Theres speculation thatother teams will spend more, too, now that their franchise values just shot upmillions.
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That may not be true, however. Theres usually one teamevery winter that wants to make a huge splash. Look at the Miami Marlins a fewmonths ago. They impacted the market to a degree, but they couldnt buy upeveryone they want. They didnt get Albert Pujols, after all.
Theres alsothis to consider: Suppose, and this is a wild guess, that the Giants franchisevalue went from 600 million to 800 million based on the Dodgers sale. Thatsnot equity that can be used to boost payroll without cash calls to owners whomay not be so swift to liquidate other personal assets.
The Giants, like every other team, must balance costs withactual revenues.
As for those revenues? Yes, they are substantial. But maybenot substantial enough to spend with the Guggenheims of the baseball world.